Science has proven that substance use disorder is a chronic brain disease that can be managed with medical treatment. It is not a moral failing or a character flaw. But still, only one in 10 Americans with a substance use disorder receives treatment. Addiction is highly stigmatized, and stigma is fueling the public health crisis, according to Gary Mendell, who leads Shatterproof, a national nonprofit he founded to end the devastation that addiction causes families. \u201cEveryone\u2019s talking about heroin because that\u2019s what gets eyeballs, when it\u2019s really a prescription drug problem,\u201d Mendell said. Easton police Chief Tim Shaw agreed. Stamford, where Shaw worked for 28 years before coming to Easton, is home to Purdue Pharma, producer of OxyContin. Shaw was fighting crime on the front lines of the opioid epidemic when it began in the 1990s with the introduction of OxyContin to the market. The highly addictive 12-hour time-release drug, which wasn\u2019t supposed to be addictive, triggered the opioid crisis when it was introduced in the 1990s, Mendell said. Doctors were taught in medical school, \u201cDo not prescribe opiates, they are very dangerous,\u201d he said. \u201cThat was what it was like prior to 15 years ago.\u201d Then Purdue Pharma spent hundreds of millions of dollars convincing the health industry that OxyContin, a 12-hour release product, not two-hour, is not addictive, and they believed it, Mendell said. \u201cI\u2019m not blaming doctors,\u201d he said. \u201cDoctors get into the field and they do what they were taught. Doctors were taught that OxyContin wasn\u2019t addictive. We have to get prescribing habits of doctors under control. We\u2019re talking about cutting down on supply.\u201d Opioids are so addictive \u2014 and so dangerous \u2014 because of the way they affect the brain\u2019s pleasure center. They work by attaching to the brain\u2019s receptors and sending signals that block pain, slow breathing, and promote a feeling of calmness. They also flood the brain\u2019s circuits with dopamine \u2014 the \u201cfeel-good\u201d chemical that sends the brain feedback about rewards \u2014 creating a feeling of euphoria. For the sake of survival, humans brains are naturally wired to repeat behaviors associated with pleasure or reward. So when that reward system is overstimulated by the effects of opioids, the brain remembers that behavior and records it as something that should be repeated without even thinking about it, according to research posted on the Shatterproof website. Mendell cited the facts: \u2022 In 2015, 33,000 people died of an overdose, of which 20,000 were from prescription drugs and 13,000 from heroin. Of the 13,000 heroin users, 10,500, or 80%, started with prescription pills, he said. \u2022 In 1995, doctors wrote 60 million prescriptions; last year doctors wrote 240 million prescriptions, a fourfold increase. Concurrently, the number of overdoses jumped five and a half times, he said. \u201cAnother statistic, which I use on my slide shows, is the United States is 5% of the world population but we use 80% of the prescription drugs,\u201d Shaw said.